Community Craft/GarageSale and BBQ

The Bluffton SHANNON Service Club announces its annual Community Craft/Garage Sale and BBQ.  The event is held at The Centre of Bluffton on Friday, February 28, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, February 29, 9 a.m. to noon.  Admission is $1.00; children 12 and under are free.  If you purchase a ticket for the BBQ, you gain free admission to the craft/garage sale.

Ted’s Market Chicken BBQ tickets are $8.50 each.  The BBQ takes place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on February 28. The following members of our congregation are selling tickets:  Becky Cox, Ben Stahl, and Duane Bollenbacher .

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Lenten Mission Project

The Board of Christian Education has chosen Church World Service’s “Best Gift” as our 2020 Lenten Mission Project.  Money to purchase sheep and chickens will be collected until Easter Sunday, April 12.  The sheep are $60.00 each, and two hens and a rooster are $18.00.  Your donation will go toward the purchase of sheep or chickens depending in which basket you place your donation.

Chickens require little space and can thrive on scraps allowing families to make money without spending much.  With a donation of $18.00 a family will be given two hens and a rooster along with training to turn your donation into a lifetime opportunity.

  • One hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year.  The eggs provide protein and nourishment for the family.
  • Sale of extra eggs and offspring can boost the family income
  • Passing this gift on ensures security for generations

Sheep can graze on the hilliest, rockiest pastures unsuitable for other livestock.  They are adaptable and are able to survive nearly anywhere in the world.  A gift of $60.00 will provide a family with a sheep.

  • Sheep can provide milk for hungry families.
  • Wool from the sheep is used to make warm clothing.
  • Sale of extra wool can boost the income of the family.
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Lenten Devotionals Available

A variety of Lenten devotionals are available on the back windowsill in the sanctuary.  Please take one to read each day to enhance your Lenten journey.

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Ash Wednesday Service February 26

The Ash Wednesday service will be held on Wednesday, February 26, at Emmanuel United Church of Christ beginning at 7 p.m.  Emmanuel UCC will also host an evening meal each Wednesday during Lent beginning at 6 p.m.

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Dazzling Reign (Matthew 17:1-9)

When the disciples went up the mountain with Jesus, they first encountered the past, seeing their transfigured friend alongside the prophets Moses and Elijah.  Having glimpsed the past, they were prepared for future ministries and the leadership role they would play in a changing world and a changing church.

Six graduate schools and programs in theology play an especially important role in the preparation of pastoral leaders for the United Church of Christ–both helping student ministers engage with the wealth of our church’s tradition and preparing them for ministry of the future.  Although there are other institutions where a prospective minister might receive credentialing, these six seminaries of the United Church of Christ have been recognized for their special commitment to and relationship with the UCC.

Today, on Seminary Sunday and Church Vocations Sunday, we give thanks for the generations of new pastors, past and future, who find community, commitment and challenge at these institutions of higher learning.

Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School–New Haven, CT

Chicago Theological Seminary–Chicago, IL

Eden Theological Seminary–St. Louis, MO

Lancaster Theological Seminary–Lancaster, PA

Pacific School of Religion–Berkeley, CA

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities–New Brighton, MN

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From the Heart (Matthew 5:21-37)

Today’s scripture contains some of the most challenging sayings of Jesus.  Not only does Jesus implore us to take care with our behavior, we are even challenged to watch our thoughts.  What if we were able to recognize Christ’s forgiveness extends even to the violence of our thoughts?

Try this guided meditation as a place to start that radical forgiveness.

Imagine a beautiful hill and imagine yourself climbing it, never tired in your body, never tired of looking around at this gorgeous place….

Now imagine that you get to the top of the hill, and the view of the valleys and plains around you opens up.  You can see a long way.  Imagine that the place spread before you is the country of your inner life….

It is populated with all the people you have known and every place you have ever been and everything you have ever done.  As you look over it, you can see it at a distance, yet you can see it all clearly….

Take a few moments to locate someone precious, or something that brings you joy, or someplace that brings you peace from sometime in your life.  Enjoy your memories and feelings as you look upon that beloved person, object or place….

Now turn your gaze.  Somewhere in the vast country of your inner life, there is something that still feels out of place.  Somewhere is stored those thoughts that bring you regret.

From your safe place, high on the hill, you can look upon those thoughts with fresh eyes.  You can see them for what they are–one part of the country of your inner life, not the whole of it….

Look at it from this distance and with this clarity.  See again how the thing you thought, that once seemed so huge, is only one place in the country of your inner life, one part of all the vastness that you have seen and known….

Allow yourself to imagine how it would change the geography of the country of your life if you were to recognize that Christ forgives the thing that needs forgiving….

Would the thing change in shape or color?  Would it reflect or absorb the light in a different way?  Would it become smaller?  Would it disappear altogether, leaving room for something new?….

Allow yourself to know that it is already forgiven by a God whose love is more powerful than any human thought….

Notice if anything in you has changed.  You might notice that you feel lighter now….

You might feel more satisfied about the future of the country of your life–ready for whatever lies ahead.  Renewed, you return back down the hill.  You might find yourself walking more quickly now–almost running, your feet almost flying off the ground…

You might want to journal about your experience of entering this meditation, or share it with friends or a spiritual guide like your pastor.  Does imagining Christ’s forgiveness help it seem closer to you?


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The Vision Beautiful (Matthew 5:1-12)

The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the  mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.  Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven:  Blessed is the family bankrupted by medical costs.  Blessed is the elder who stands with a cardboard sign asking for money at the end of the on-ramp.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted:  Blessed is the one who has lost loved ones to preventable illness.  Blessed is the one who grieves the loss of a job to retirement or restructure.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth:  Blessed is the one who flees the violence of war in one nation, only to experience the violence of detention in another.  Blessed is the one who cannot speak for himself, whose only language is the anguish in his eyes.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled:  Blessed is the one who travels by three busses to find affordable groceries in her city.  Blessed is the one whose kitchen is empty, but who can’t find a food pantry in his rural area.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy:  Blessed is the one on social media who asks a genuine question rather than starts a fight.  Blessed is the one who offers solace to the addict without demanding proof that she is worthy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God:  Blessed is the one who tells the truth, even when a lie would be easier.  Blessed is the one who receives the truth with grace and curiosity.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God:  Blessed is the one who marches in the streets for peace in the world.  Blessed is the one who sits on a prayer cushion for peace in their heart.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven:  Blessed is the one who is wrongfully accused and imprisoned. Blessed is the one who has served time, only to find himself barred from housing and work upon his release.

These blessings from Christ, known as the Beatitudes, continue to have resonance in our world today.  Spend some time in prayerful consideration of the Beatitudes you have witnessed in your community.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

The Community Gathers to Worship the Living God

Centering Prayer:  Patient God, we are a people in a hurry.  We value faster more than deeper and getting there more than growing.  We do not see the tiger lily on our way to the art museum or the wren’s song on our way to the concert.  God, we miss the child on the way to the adult.  We only know  how to wait with our fingers tapping.  We hurry to do things ourselves, God, because we find your steady, deliberate slowness irritating and scary.  Teach us to trust you so we can learn how to wait.  Amen.

Sunday, February 23–Worship service at 10:30 a.m.; this is Pastor Carol’s last Sunday with us. She will be retiring from the ministry.  Pastor Carol’s meditation is titled “It’s Not How You Start But How You Finish!”, and is based on Ephesians 4:1-16.  Reverend Dan Busch, Association Minister, will preside over the Celebration of Ministry portion of the service.  All are welcome to attend.

A Farewell Luncheon will be held in Oppermann Hall following the worship service.  Reservations are required.

Tuesday, February 25–Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.

Wednesday, February 26–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, February 27–NO choir practice

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Fall Hours Begin September 8, 2019

Beginning September 8, 2019, and continuing until the first Sunday in June, 2020, Faith Formation classes will meet at 9:30 a.m., and worship starts at 10:30 a.m.

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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  March 24, 2020,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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